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Take Five: Meet Andrew Dufresne, Newport Harbor Lawn Bowling Club

By AMY SENK

The club green, which sits along San Joaquin Hills Road across the street from Lincoln Elementary School, may have caught your eye – often there will be fluttering flags, signs announcing an event, bowlers shaking hands to start or end a game. Played by kings, American lawn bowling first appeared in 1725 when British officers installed bowling greens in the colonies. The sport’s popularity faded during the Revolutionary War but was revived a century later, eventually spreading to Golden Gate Park in San Francisco in 1899 and to L.A. a few years later. I caught up with board member Andrew Dufresne to learn more about the Newport Harbor Lawn Bowling Club in Corona del Mar.

Take Five Andrew Dufresne

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Courtesy of Andrew Dufresne

Andrew Dufresne, Newport Harbor Lawn Bowling Club board member

Q: Describe, in a nutshell, what lawn bowling is...what are the basic rules?

A: Lawn bowling is a derivation of the Italian game, bocce. Much like bocce, players roll out a smaller ball (in our game it’s called the Jack) and then they roll their bowls in alternating fashion, and once they’re all rolled, whoever is closest gets one or more points. There are two major differences between bocce and bowls. First, in bowls, you play on a leveled grass or artificial surface called a green, and second in bowls, the bowls themselves are unevenly weighted so that they curve as they travel on the green. This adds an extra layer of skill and challenge to the game. The game itself can be played as singles, pairs, triples or four-versus-four or rinks. Fun fact: The winter sport, curling, was invented as a cold-weather version of lawn bowling. 

Q: What’s the history of the Newport Harbor Lawn Bowling Club?

A: Newport Harbor Lawn bowling club was established in 1939, so we’re celebrating 80 years this year. The original location was at the site of the current VFW on Balboa Peninsula and was moved to the current location in Corona del Mar in the mid-‘70s to accommodate the growing membership.

Q: How many people are members, and how does a newcomer get involved?

A: We currently have approximately 280 active members. New members can join at any time of the year, and we do offer pro-rated memberships as our membership years run from January 1 to December 31 of every year. Individuals can send emails to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to request a tour of the facility or free lessons. We also hold our annual Membership Open House in April, historically around Mother›s Day weekend.

Take Five Gentleman lawn bowling

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Players enjoying a day on the club green

Q: What kinds of activities does the club plan this summer?

A: Our Social Committee holds a member event every month and they range from bowling plus food to board or card games and parties. We also have a regular, year-round, schedule of social bowling, club tournaments and divisional tournaments as we’re a top club in the U.S. Southwest Division of BowlsUSA.

Q: What is your favorite thing about lawn bowling?

A: This is a tough one to answer because I’ve been bitten by this bug in a bad way. My favorite thing about the game itself is that it’s a very easy game to pick up and play socially, and a very difficult game to master. My favorite thing about the social aspect of the game is that it is age and gender neutral, able to be played by people of all ages, and gender really doesn’t play a factor in comparing one bowler’s skill to another. We have 90-plus-year-old members who play every Saturday and do so at a pretty high-level of play. We happen to also have, arguably, the two best bowlers in the U.S. who happen to be a man and a woman.

Editor’s Note: For more information, visit www.newportharborlbc.com.

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Amy Senk is a longtime resident of Corona del Mar and a regular contributor to Stu News Newport.